SP Crater closed to recreational enthusiasts until May to protect nesting golden eagles
Babbitt Ranches hopes the conservation model can be replicated elsewhere.
A two-mile zone around SP Crater, known as SP Crater Golden Eagle Conservation Complex (SPEC), is currently closed to recreational enthusiasts, including hunters, hikers and UTVs, in an effort to protect the nests of golden eagles. Babbitt Ranches, in conjunction with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, has announced special rules in effect for the CO Bar Ranch resort. Under special rules, lead ammunition is strictly prohibited, no target shooting is permitted, and no hunting, trapping, or other method of taking small game is permitted.
The SP Crater Golden Eagle Conservation Resort was established in 2021, following unique conservation management agreements with the Arizona Department of Game and Fisheries, State Lands Department of Arizona. Arizona and the Landsward Foundation, overseeing the complex.
“With the growing number of outdoor enthusiasts in northern Arizona, as well as concerns that golden eagle populations are declining range-wide, the SP Crater Golden Conservation Complex Eagle is designed to maintain calm and safe nesting areas to promote the survival rate of young and serve as a national model for the protection and sustainability of golden eagle populations,” said Babbitt Ranches President Billy Cordasco. , on behalf of the community of Babbitt Ranches.
“Golden eagles are generally wild species that do not tolerate human activity well in and around their nesting territories,” said Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, raptor program coordinator for the Department of Game and Fish. ‘Arizona. “They will abandon their eggs if they feel threatened, and it doesn’t take long when the eagles are out of the nest, especially in cold weather, for the eggs to die. Also, for newborns, it takes about three to four weeks before they have their down to help them thermoregulate. If the parent eagles leave the nest when the eaglets are young, they are extremely vulnerable to the elements and to predators, such as crows, which will grab them in the blink of an eye.
Jacobson says golden eagles don’t lay eggs every year. A recent study by the Arizona Game and Fish Department found that golden eagle pairs produce an average of one nest every two years.
Cordasco says the SP Crater Golden Eagle Conservation Complex is being tested as a proof of concept to provide protection for golden eagles beyond northern Arizona. “If we can manage human activity on the landscape during critical times and promote the use of lead-free ammunition, we may be able to minimize threats to eagles and improve their production rate and survivability.”
Cordasco says years of research and educational efforts led by Peregrine Fund CEO and Chairman Chris Parish have paved the way for the Babbitts and other landowners to manage the use of lead ammunition on their property. , with support from the Arizona Department of Game and Fisheries. Through his work with the endangered California condor, research has revealed that lead from bullets in animal remains left in the landscape and eaten by scavengers can lead to a lethal amount of lead poisoning in birds of prey.
“Our goal is to provide adequate information so that people can make informed decisions, whether choosing the type of ammunition used or engaging in educational campaigns to reduce the use of lead for wildlife,” Parish said. “We don’t tell people how to manage their land or how to manage hunters, we try to spread the scientific information so that people are better informed.”
Parish co-founded the North American Non-Lead Partnership, an organization with members like Babbitt Ranches, supported by hunters. “We encourage voluntary action based on incentives and have found that when hunters know what the science says about the potential impacts of lead ammunition on wildlife, 80% or more take action.”
Golden eagles are large, long-lived raptors found in the high desert grasslands of the West. Some are in northern Arizona year-round. Others summer as far north as the Yukon. Babbitt Ranches has been studying eagles on its 750,000 acre range for over a decade. NBF
By Bonnie Stevens, FBN